Dog vaccinations

It’s amazing how quickly you see your dog become an integral part of the family. You will soon be seeing them like a child that you want to protect from the world. Just like getting yourself or your children vaccinated against human diseases, your dog will need some vaccinations to give them immunity to various dog diseases.

All dogs need vaccinating during the first few weeks of their lives to protect them from harmful diseases such as distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, leptospirosis and even kennel cough. This should be done by the breeder, but always arrange an appointment with your vet as soon as you bring your puppy home so that you can check its medical history.

Later on in life your puppy will need to have booster vaccinations so that it remains immune from diseases. Your vet will tell you the best time to schedule the boosters when you take your puppy in to have him checked out for the first time.

Vaccines are the only proven method of protecting against these diseases, which is why it is very important to get your dog vaccinated at the correct time.

What do dog vaccinations protect against?

  • Parvovirus
  • Distemper
  • Parainfluenza Virus
  • Hepatitis
  • Leptospirosis
  • Kennel Cough
  • Coronavirus
  • Canine Influenza

When should you get your dog vaccinated?

Puppies of the same litter will all need vaccinating around the same time. During the first few weeks of your puppy’s lifetime when it is feeding on its mother’s milk it will be partially protected from infectious diseases. However, after this period your puppy will lose this protection and will need vaccinating.

Puppies should not be separated from their mother until at least 8 weeks. By this time the puppy should have been given its first two combination vaccines, but it will still need a further two combination vaccines at around 12 weeks and 16 weeks. A combination vaccine, also referred to as a 5-way vaccine often includes protection against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and Virus Coronavirus. It may also protect against Leptospirosis.

Arrange a general health check appointment for your puppy as soon as you bring him home so that you can check which vaccinations it has had and which ones it needs. You may also want to get your puppy vaccinated against Lyme Disease at 12 weeks, which will require a repeat injection two weeks after the first and then once a year.

Follow the instructions from your vet regarding when each vaccination should be given as it may vary for different breeds, sizes and health problems. However, here is a general overview to give you an understanding of a dog vaccination schedule.

6 – 7 weeks First combination vaccine – covers against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza Virus and Coronavirus
9 weeks Second combination vaccine
12 weeks Third combination vaccine, Lyme Disease vaccination – repeated two weeks later and then once a year
16 weeks Final combination vaccine
Adult boosters Lyme Disease vaccine once a year where it is a concern in your area

Some vets suggest that Rottweilers and Doberman Pinschers should have another Parvovirus vaccination between 16 and 20 weeks for maximum protection, but always speak to your vets first.

When should your dog receive its booster vaccinations?

Your dog needs booster vaccinations so that it has long lasting immunity from harmful diseases. When faced with infection, your dog might develop a harmful disease if it’s booster vaccinations are not up to date. It is important that you arrange your dog’s first booster shortly after it receives its initial set of vaccinations.

Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis Puppies need a booster 1 year after they have completed their series of combination vaccines, and then all dogs need boosters once a year for at least 3 years
Parainfluenza All dogs require a booster once every 3 years
Kennel Cough For dogs in high risk environment a booster is required once a year or every 6 months (Kennels will not allow dogs to stay without a valid vaccination)
Lyme Disease For dogs in high risk environments a booster is required once a year prior to tick season
Leptospirosis For dogs in high risk environments a booster is required once a year
Canine Influenza All dogs require a booster once a year

How are vaccinations given to dogs?

Most vaccinations are administered by means of an injection underneath the skin at the scruff of the neck. The vaccine for kennel cough is usually administered as a nasal spray, although there is an injection available for dogs who find it extremely uncomfortable. The nasal spray however offers immediate as well as long lasting protection.

Vaccination side effects

It is very uncommon for vaccinations to cause any side effects. If you are at all worried then you should discuss any health concerns with your vet. However, it is important to understand that protection from potentially life-threatening diseases hugely outweighs the small risk of developing any side effects.